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Chinese Rock Crystal Art Deco Beads

These rock crystal beads are early 20th century. Most of the Chinese beads I have written about were carved in the 18th or 19th century …those beads are carved, pierced, reticulated and spherical… because the necklaces were created with beads from Mandarin Court strings.


This 27" necklace was made for the Western market…the beads are graduated in size from 10mm-13mm, a style that became popular c. 1920-1930 …carved with the Shou symbol on two sides and a flowing design on the other two… pure elegance.


Rock crystal is a member of the quartz family…related to rose quartz, smoky quartz and amethyst. It was used for decorative carving in ancient Egypt and Persia. In the 14th to 17th century rock crystal became popular among the European Aristocracy …it again became popular in the early 20th century and used for beads in famous ‘pools of light’ necklaces.


The simplicity of the carving has a distinct art deco feel. In 1925, the Exposition of International Decorative Arts and Modern Industry was held in Paris. It was a turning point in the history of modern design in the western world. The ‘Art Deco’ movement rejected the serpentine lines of Art Nouveau and embraced a cleaner more geometric style.

One of the most influential jewelers in Paris at that time was Cartier …Louis Cartier created some of his most famous Art Deco designs using Chinese carved stones and rock crystal collected on trips to the orient.

Photos of the Cartier Oriental pieces can be seen in the book "Cartier" by Hans Nadelhoffer.

The book is amazing…probably the most beautiful jewelry book I have ever seen… and I have seen many…many.

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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